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Our Sustainability Approach includes a Possum

A.J. Drew and critters

I just finished packing up the seed orders from the Thanksgiving weekend sale. Many thanks to all who participated. The orders will all go out in the AM. Want to share that getting orders out is not what it is all about.  Yes, we want to get orders out in a timely manner.  Yes, we very much appreciate and need the income.  But making money is not at the top of our list.  Sustainability is.  My wife and I want to leave our children a homestead that will last for many lifetimes.  To achieve such a goal, we think balance is important.

We adore our patrons because they allow us to live this beautiful life, but the goal is actually balanced sustainability. When it comes to the business, that means balancing the money making efforts against the lifestyle desires.  Sure we could make more money if we used chemicals for est control, weed control, and fertilization.  But that leads away from our ultimate goals.

A.J. Drew and critters
A.J. Drew n Friends

The photo was snapped by my wife shortly after we returned from a doctor’s visit. Doctor changed some of my medication and it is going to take some time to adjust. Right now it knocks me out for a couple of hours. On my lap are Miss Perty (chocolate lab) and Danny Zucko (tom cat).  Danny is a barn cat my wife brought in for a visit.  Perty is my daughters dog that has taken an extra special concern for me since I have been having health struggles.  Like me, both have jobs here on the farm other than taking naps.  So do the ducks and chicken.

The ducks and chicken are great for keeping down the bugs.  Yes, they munch on some of the low hanging fruit, including peppers and tomato.  But it is worth it to decrease the pests.  The cats keep the rodents down.  The dogs protect the cats, ducks, and chicken. The result is that we spend less time and money fighting pests and we do not have to throw artificial chemicals on everything.  It is all about balance.  We work our soil with the same general approach.

Bugs T. Turtle
Bugs T. Turtle

I read somewhere that a single inch of grass clippings is enough to keep the soil well nourished.  Although I am not convinced that is enough, it is a good start.  We amend with barn and pond scrapings as well.  Mulching heavily with grass clippings keeps the weeds down and creates an environment friendly to beneficial critters.

Above left is my daughter’s box turtle variously named Bugs and Mr. Bugs.  She brought him inside years ago, converting him from an outside friend to an indoor family member.  He is an example of what can be expected from heavy mulching.  Frogs, toads, lizards, and snakes are other examples of the friendly critters heavy mulching attracts.  All of these friendly critters help to keep down the pests.  Heavy mulching also creates a perfect environment for worms and other beneficial critters.  It also makes a great way of disposing of lawn and garden waste, as well as compost that comes from household waste.  When there is more water melon rind than our lamb can eat, it gets composted.

Our possum friend.
Mr. White

Our critter friends are not just of the domestic variety. To the left is Mr. White, our possum friend.  Possum can eat 5,000 ticks per season.  In the photo, Mr. White might look like he is bearing his teeth defensively.  He is actually eating cheese that I hand fed him at the kitchen window where he is perched.  Although we do have one dog that has not accepted him as art of our critter family, he often sleeps with the cats and ducks.  Like the cat Danny Zucho, he was not born or raised here on the farm.  He was an adopted family member that showed up one day and was charmed into sticking around.  Yes, he might steel an egg or two here or there when a mama duck is not sitting her nest, but he is worth it.  While other people fear the disease they might carry, we recognize the disease they prevent by eating all those ticks.

These and other sustainability practices are not just efforts towards a healthy environment, they lighten the work load.  When there are critters to control pests, there is less reason to spray.  When your soil is amended with barn scrapings, yard waste, and household compost there is little reason to bring in other fertilizer.  We feel it not only lightens our load, but produces a much better product.

For the 2018 crop, I will be making an effort to document many of our methods in photo and video.  Please keep an eye on this web page for more information in the coming months.

As always, thank you for all you do for us.  If not for patrons we could not live this beautiful life.

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